A last minute meeting between the federal government and Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, on Tuesday night to attempt to avert a nationwide strike over increased petrol price, collapsed mid-way as representatives of the organised labour staged a walkout on government representatives.
The NLC says the talks broke down because the government refused to even consider its demand for a reversal of the price hike, and an earlier increase in electricity tariffs.
The meeting, called by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Babachir Lawal, was attended by the president of NLC, Aliyu Wabba, who led representatives of affiliate groups including Trade Union Congress, TUC, and civil society organisations.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that the meeting was barely an hour into its agenda when the labour leaders decided to stage a walkout after what they called the “refusal of government to accede to their demands”.
The General Secretary of the NLC, Peter Ozo-Eson, who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES on phone shortly after leaving the venue of the meeting, said members could not continue to put up with the government’s unbending attitude towards their demands.
“The talks with government broke down because it was not ready to address the issues the NLC placed on the table for discussion; so we left,” Mr. Ozo-Eson said.
“The demands the NLC and its affiliates made formally in writing on Saturday were that government should first revert to the fuel price of N86.50 per litre before any other decision.
“Again, we demanded that the electricity tariff imposed on the people last January should also be reversed. But, government said they were not ready to discuss such things.
“They said they wanted to discuss minimum wage and palliatives. But, those were not issues we were ready to start any discussion with,” he said.
Mr. Ozo-Eson said labour was not interested in listening to what offers government was going to make in respect of the two issues it offered to talk about, saying their interest was a complete reversal of the fuel price and electricity tariff.
He said the government could not be talking about minimum wage first when most Nigerians are not even working and are being tasked further financially and economically by the hike in fuel price and increased electricity tariff.